×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Seoul-Beijing-Tokyo trilateral could stabilise supply chains if China does not upset balance

Seoul-Beijing-Tokyo trilateral could stabilise supply chains if China does not upset balance

China’s primary concern was that Japan and South Korea should not impose further restrictions on exports to China amid its increasing rivalry with the US, and invest and trade more with Beijing

Follow Us :

Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 05:28 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 05:28 IST
Comments

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida and President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol met with Premier of China Li Qiang in Seoul on May 26-27 for the 9th trilateral summit to discuss strengthening regional co-operation.

The first edition of these meetings took place in 2008; however, the latest one took place after a hiatus of four-and-a-half years, primarily due to the impact of Covid-19, escalating geopolitical tensions, and diplomatic conflicts during the interim period. The fact that China was represented by its Premier and not President Xi Jinping indicated that the focus was more on trade and investment, rather than resolving trickier political and security issues; and that expectations were low.

The global situation has changed considerably since 2008 when these meetings began. Since then, China has emerged as the second-biggest economy, and seeks global primacy with its big armed forces and leadership in emerging technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and others. China’s drive for ‘national rejuvenation’ by annexing the disputed territories of United States allies and partners such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and India has increased tensions, and clashes, and encouraged these countries to gravitate towards Washington.

China has now emerged as a competitor to Japan and South Korea in the manufacturing of bullet trains, electric vehicles, consumer, telecom, and other equipment. It is now a big trading partner of these countries, and they can’t sever economic ties with Beijing.

The economies of all three countries are going through a lot of stress due to disruptions in the supply chains due to Covid-19, the rise in conflicts, and the decline in demand due to high interest rates in the US, Europe, and other regions. The business community is asking these governments to reduce mutual tensions and promote regional trade and investment co-operation in view of their declining business prospects. After the summit, the three leaders attended a trilateral business meeting organised by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

At the summit, Li called on the three countries to deepen economic and trade connectivity, maintain the stability of the supply chains, and resume negotiations for a free trade agreement which was suspended in November 2019. These three countries make up 25 per cent of the global GDP and 20 per cent of the global trade.

Taking a jibe at the US, Li said that turning economic and trade issues into “political games and security matters”, protectionism, decoupling and severing of supply chains must be shunned. China’s primary concern was that Japan and South Korea should not impose further restrictions on exports to China amid its increasing rivalry with the US, and invest and trade more with Beijing. China wants Japan and South Korea to supply microchips and chip-making equipment in defiance of the US.

Japan and South Korea urged Li to remove irritants in doing business faced by their companies in China, and the early release of Japanese nationals detained by Beijing on suspicions of espionage. China and South Korea agreed to establish a 2+2 diplomatic and security dialogue. China and Japan agreed to hold a new round of high-level economic dialogue, and launch a high-level people-to-people consultation mechanism at an appropriate time. In the joint declaration, the three leaders agreed to boost co-operation to maintain the supply chains, resume talks on a three-way trade agreement and work together on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The latter evoked an angry response from North Korea which condemned these three countries describing their declaration as a “grave provocation that violates its sovereignty”.

While there was no agreement on political and security issues, the meeting was useful in strengthening communication and reducing tensions and conflict. In the current global situation, politics is often impacting economics as the current international order is challenged by jockeying for power and new rivalries among several major and regional powers. If China maintains status quo, a congenial climate could be created for deepening peace, stability, and co-operation among countries in the region. If it resorts to its erstwhile policy of making new border incursions, then the hopes for increased economic co-operation will dissipate.

(Yogesh Gupta is Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT